Q. What is the meaning of “ahimsa”?
A. Ahimsa is an ancient Sanskrit word/concept that means non-violence. It is the essence of my practice. I believe that people who have been married, i.e. lived together, eaten together, slept together, been intimate, and in many cases produced beautiful children together, simply should not become enemies under any circumstances. It’s okay if circumstances require couples to change the nature of their relationship, and dissolve their marriage. It is a travesty, however, for them to get into an emotionally violent dispute in trying to negotiate a divorce agreement.
Q. What if the other spouse or their lawyer is nasty or unreasonable and doesn’t agree with your philosophy? Will I still be protected?
A. Yes. Not only will you be protected, but in fact, you will be better protected than if you yourself had a nasty, hostile attorney. It is a mistake to believe that a loud voice and fist pounding the table equals good lawyering or leads to a successful outcome. When I encounter such behavior from another attorney, I simply do not respond in kind. That alone minimizes much of the effect of attack-oriented behavior. I have practiced long enough to know that most aggressive lawyering either represents meaningless chest pounding, or masks a deeper lack of understanding and competency about how to handle a divorce case. I respond to such tactics firmly and competently, but without taking the bait and getting into a meaningless, unproductive interaction. In the final analysis, ninety-eight percent of my cases get settled without going to court, and in those extremely rare situations where an agreement simply cannot be reached, I have affiliations with some of the best litigators in the Midwest.
Q. If divorce is a possibility, when is the best time to consult with you?
A. Even when divorce is uncertain, it is useful to seek my advice. If there is a chance for the marriage to be saved, I can and will give you advice that will support this. If divorce is inevitable, it is ideal to see me as early in the process as possible. This gives me maximum opportunity to give you practical information and wise counsel from the outset. There is a great deal of fear and uncertainty for people when they are contemplating divorce and starting off in a non-threatening manner is critical if the parties are going to have the best chance for a positive outcome. There are important preliminary matters that I take great care to discuss with my clients that ward off problems that are traditionally encountered when proper care is not taken at the beginning stages of a divorce case.
Q. Do you charge for the initial consultation?
A. Yes. I charge a flat fee of $500.00 for my first meeting which is payable at the time of the appointment. I provide a comprehensive case analysis in this meeting and it represents some of the hardest and most important work that I do. Clearly understanding the unique and special circumstances of your individual case is the key to my helping you achieve a positive outcome with a minimum amount of pain and expense.
Q. What do I need to bring to my first meeting with you?
A. Certainly it is useful to make a list of all your questions and concerns. It is also useful to bring some knowledge of your general financial situation, but it is not absolutely necessary. Frankly, I am most interested in the first meeting in finding out “what’s really going on” so I can immediately start thinking of creative ways to protect you and help set the stage for a positive outcome. We can always get financial information, but when starting a divorce, only in the beginning can we avoid future problems before they arise. People are usually fearful and apprehensive when contemplating divorce and I seek to ease some of this anxiety by providing concrete answers about a multiplicity of matters. This consistently provides clients with immediate relief. It is common for people to report that after their first meeting with me they feel like a weight has been lifted from their shoulders as they gain a vision of how they can get through the divorce process with maximum protection while still maintaining their integrity.
Q. How much is the whole thing going to cost?
A. While getting divorced is not inexpensive, I believe that my philosophy of practice allows clients to get from A to Z with the least amount of expense. I charge by the hour and after our first meeting in which I do a comprehensive case analysis, I can give you a relatively good idea of how much of my time it will take to help you reach a positive resolution. The diligent work I do to help clients avoid unproductive, attack-oriented behavior is instrumental in keeping people out of court and keeping their legal costs to a minimum.
A. No. Checks are fine and clients often use their credit cards to get cash advances, which achieves the same thing.
Q. I like your holistic approach, but can you deal with my complicated financial situation?
A. Skillfully dealing with complex financial matters is my specialty. I used to work in the financial industry holding three different securities licenses. In addition, I spent years in real estate law dealing with complex transactions. Finally, I have run a company in the past and have spent many years working in complex divorce situations. It all adds up to over 30 years experience in creatively dealing with a wide variety of difficult financial matters.
Q. Do you practice outside in the Kansas City area?
A. Yes. While I currently hold active licenses in Kansas and Missouri and most of my clients are in Kansas City, I have successfully represented people or done mediation in several other American states as well as a couple of foreign countries. It is usually necessary for people in other areas to have at least one meeting with me in person. After that we can work long distance.
Q. Do you provide other legal services?
A. Yes. While family law is my primary practice, I also act as a personal attorney for individuals providing advice and counsel about a variety of financial and business matters. On occasion, I also represent people in minor criminal cases involving drugs or alcohol in situations where clients are willing to take responsibility for their actions and are committed to recovery.
Q. How available are you? Are you easy to get a hold of? Can I ever reach you after hours or on the weekend?
A. I make it a point to be easily accessible. Of course I am in meetings and tied up with a variety of things throughout the day, I have a private life, and I do sleep. But as a matter of fact, I try to be exceptionally available to my clients and easy to get reach.
The thing is, many of my clients are going through divorce, and I recognize that this can be one of the most painful and vulnerable times of their life. For this reason, I only take the number cases that allow me time to take special care of all my clients. And sometimes this means being available for communication after hours and on weekends. I don’t consider this extraordinary service, just appropriate care for people who are going through especially difficult times. I don’t ask my clients to talk to paralegals, assistants, or secretaries; they talk to me.
Q. Are there any other questions I should ask?
A. You might want to look at the essays section of this website for articles like “Six important questions to ask in finding a lawyer” or “15 Dos and Don’ts of Starting the Divorce Process”